Summer trails, games, and lifetime memories at Camp Indian Trai
Boredom is not an option when it comes to summer in the East Lycoming area. For three years now, Summer Day Camp at the East Lycoming YMCA has kept lots of kids busy all season long. “We take pride in offering a great day that kids will remember for the rest of their life,” said Attie Segrave, athletic director at the EL YMCA.
Two sites are given for children in grades K through 6th to choose from beginning the week of June 11 up to the week of August 20. The kids can come any week they want or all eleven weeks according to Brooke Houseknecht, site supervisor at Indian Park in Montoursville. The other location is in Hughesville at Ashkar Elementary School. So far over 100 children are registered with about 30 at Ashkar and close to 80 attending the Montoursville site. There is also a teen camp for young adults, ages 12 to 16 at the YMCA in Muncy Township. “The older kids get bored staying at home. They like to come here and help build a fort, carry equipment, fill the water jugs and help with the younger groups,” said Houseknecht. They like to read to the younger students and help with activities and crafts.
“We are still taking registrations,” Houseknecht said. Often there are vacations, appointments, or other family responsibilities so the Y will work with all of this, assured the staff. The Y also provides breakfast, beverages and snacks plus transportation to all sites from the YMCA. Parents can drop off their children any time after 6 a.m. and pick them up there as well before 6 p.m. They must bring their own lunch.
Four different groups, according to grade levels, are well organized into daily schedules that include activities such as swimming, canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, team relays, pond exploration, field trips and more. “We keep them moving,” said Houseknecht who started out as a counselor. “At the end of the day, the kids are tired, and the counselors are tired too,” she said.
Houseknecht explained that all 17 counselors are certified in CPR and first-aid, have child care clearances and many are college students who enjoy working with children. Rantz Mahaffey said that he is hoping this will help him get a teaching job after he graduates. He said he received about 20 hours of training in camp safety and child abuse prevention. Some of the counselors are retired adults who like to come each year to assist as mentors and earn some extra cash. Others are substitute teachers, education or child psychiatry majors. The CPR training can be acquired through the EL YMCA through the aquatics director.
Thursdays are field trip days so the kids get exposure to lots of different places. For example, they went to the landfill and learned all about recycling and the 3 R’s – recycle, re-use and reduce. Future trips include the Montour Preserve, Bald Eagle and RB Winter State Parks, Reptiland, the Thomas Taber Museum and Memorial Park.
Madison Blickley, from Turbotville, said this is her third year coming to the Y’s Day Camp. “I like it a lot. Canoeing, archery and swimming. I have new friends too,” she said. Ball sports are popular. Active recreational play is always incorporated. Kickball, dodge ball, knock-out basketball, bomber and wiffle ball are scheduled weekly.
The kids can earn ‘dollars’ for good behavior and for following the Y’s principles and guidelines according to Houseknecht. “They can then use their bucks for candy, toys or some Y merchandise,” she said. There is a different theme every week. This week it is Super Heroes based on Captain America. Kids enjoy relay races such as flash and a frisbee challenge. During Fourth of July week, the theme is history with patriotic activities. “We will also have a Sports Spree, Wacky Week, Carnival Week and the program will end with Camp Olympia Week from August 20th through the 24th,” explained Houseknecht. “On hot days we like to play Slip ‘n Slide with water balloons. Kids like to fill them and have a water battle at the end of the summer.”
All levels and abilities are accepted. Provisions are made for those with disabilities. There are no exclusions. “We try to always find a way to include them,” Houseknecht added who also said she loved camp as a kid and can now re-live some of these experiences as a youth leader. The groups give themselves their own team names, usually an Indian tribe name. The oldest group call themselves the ‘Black Hawks.’
For more information on the program or to register call 546-8822.